You are the Worst

Photo by Michael Belk www.journeyswiththemessiah.org

Photo by Michael Belk
www.journeyswiththemessiah.org

You ever know someone who just loves other people well? It’s pretty incredible to watch. I suck at it, so when I see someone who does it well, it’s literally one of the most admirable and awe-striking things I could possibly witness. Seriously. It is.

I typically have a terrible poker face if I’m annoyed with someone. In fact, I just have one of those faces where it looks like I’m always annoyed even though I’m not. There’s even a term for it. The Christian version would be “b***** resting face”.

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The Mission

I have always had a problem understanding how God loved us. I’m a man. Those two things are related. It’s just not something “I got”. Alright, Jesus died for us. But that’s hard for me to understand and hard to relate to. But after a culmination of various events, I think I’m starting get it, and it’s much more epic than I ever thought.

About 3 months ago my cousin shipped off to Marine Corp boot camp in Parris Island. I just went down to watch him graduate the day before Thanksgiving. The discipline, unity and purpose that these guys have is one of the most admirable things I can ever imagine.

I’ve been “around” members of the military my whole life and it’s one of the only things that can invoke some kind of teary-eyedness out of me. I think the same goes for most men. Whether that’s Braveheart, Gladiator, or seeing a true account of a battlefield mission, there’s something deep inside the heart of a man that is in total admiration and maybe a little jealousy. “Wild at Heart” is a great read all about that.

After seeing my cousin graduate and how pumped he is, it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that he, and the other new marines, are ready to lay their lives down for me. The other guys don’t know me. But they have this incredible call on their lives where they felt lead to do so, and it’s not something I take for granted. I have always known this about members of the armed forces, but now with my cousin going in, it’s a little more personal.

Ever since I got back from Parris Island, I have been obsessively watching documentaries on special forces training and watching the grueling torment these guys go through to be in an elite task force. It’s unreal. These guys are throwing up, passing out, breaking bones and bleeding so they can protect me and my freedom. It certainly takes a special kind of person to do so, but it is a phenomenal calling and these guys are rushing head-in.

Last night I prayed that I would continue to get some understanding on Jesus’ love for me and to make it real. Today, by chance, I read John 15:12 which says:

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.

It clicked that in the say way these Marines are ready to lay their lives down for me, the same is true of Jesus. In the same way that these men storm the front lines and take the full blow of enemy fire, Jesus has done the same for me. Suddenly my view of Jesus has changed. He had the same calling as these soldiers (kind of). He knew he was headed to his death. The mission was more important than his life. The same is true of our military.

I want that kind of love that I would lay down my life for others. To have the same mindset and fearlessness that Jesus has. The same as every man ever looks up to William Wallace or Maximus in Gladiator. Jesus kicked so much butt and endured more than any of these guys, real or fictional.

What an incredible call that we do not deserve. It’s the most noble thing I can think of, not to mention it’s the greatest love that anyone could ever show.

Are you ready to lay your life down for one another as Christ did? If not, what is your mission?1441323_10152065964012220_1640200815_n

You Can Go Your Own Way

…is a killer song from Fleetwood Mac. I love it. I’ve lived it. But it’s not always as cracked up as it sounds. As a Christian, attempting to go my own way doesn’t work. I’ve chosen to submit my life to a God whom I believe has a bigger and better plan for me. The pieces of that plan, my daily life, change constantly. Sometimes I feel led to speak to a youth group – sometimes I feel led to go talk to a homeless person – sometimes I just go help set up an event. It looks different. Sometimes it seems like it doesn’t make a difference, but truly, I know it does.

I don’t do these things because I’m a good person. I know aside from my being a Christian, I would probably ignore a lot of opportunities to serve, help or contribute in ways that would glorify God and show love to others. Even as a Christian, I sometimes (and sometimes often) ignore all these opportunities. I go my own way. And I can start to feel it. The fact that I am no longer submitting my life to God’s plan. A plan that simply requires me to love God and to love others. It builds up and becomes a tremendous weight.

Mark 12:30-31, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.

Doing all these things as a Christian doesn’t earn me some gold stars or extra credit. My actions towards others should be a reflection of my relationship with God. I should find joy in serving others because Jesus served others, and in doing so, He laid His life down for me. Out of my appreciation and love of Christ, I should be doing the same. And when I don’t, it’s because I’ve lost focus somewhere along the way.

Going my own way sucks. There’s nothing at the end of that road. I’ve tried it. Stopped reading my Bible, praying, being a part of a Christian community – when you know and have experienced the fullness of a relationship with God, living without it is losing your purpose. There’s no fulfillment in anything I do apart from God. There’s not. I don’t get some reward for saying that or writing this: that’s just the truth. It’s an emptiness and search for satisfaction in other things that never ends.

I wrote this because I read James 1:2-4, 12 –

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness…Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Steadfastness: a life of faithful endurance amid troubles and afflictions. 

How easily am I thrown off my pursuit of a deeper relationship with God? Does a busy schedule keep me from that? Sometimes. That’s sad, right?

As Christians we need to strive for a deep relationship with God so that in the face of difficult times, we can lean and trust Him to be our support. That’s one of the marks of a Christian. Christians in DC hardly experience the persecution found in other countries, yet we have an incredibly hard time “enduring” a relationship with God with a crappy commute, desk job, and social schedule.

Get back on track.

 

ps. it really is a great song.

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The Best and Cheesiest Christian Movies From My Childhood

Christian movies have a bad reputation and it’s primarily because movie makers left that magical, dazzling formula of success that made 90s Christian movies so..boss. I watched most of these at my grandma’s house and I’m not sure why she wanted to terrify me so much, but mission accomplished, Mamaw.

1. Buttercream Gang

If you haven’t seen this, you are missing out. These kids have an epic treehouse, do tons of community service, and would never think twice about breaking the law. But wait…Pete moves to Chicago and goes astray. He comes back as a gang member, steals shoelaces….from the old man’s convenience store and passes them out to his friends like crack, and wears a bandanna. You heard it right. Pete is a bad seed. I smell prodigal son plotlines!

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2. McGee and Me

This was just tooooo good. The opening sequence alone to this series speaks volumes about Nick’s free time, lack of friends and hallucinations – his ability to draw McGee and have him come to life. These movies were awesome and kept me laughing while teaching me valuable life lessons. Favorite movies include that one where they have a skateboarding competition and then the one about baseball.

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3. On Our Own

These 4 siblings escape an orphanage and drive across the country in search for their uncle so they won’t be split up. Who doesn’t love a cross-country shenanigan fest? The thing is, I don’t remember the movie being funny at all. In fact, I remember it being very sad the whole way through. However, the theme song will often get stuck in my head and my sisters, cousin and I will sing it often as we hike through the woods. It was performed by The Osmonds. Watch this hilarious video of the top 15 lines from the movie (with song).

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4. A Thief in the Night

You’ve likely never heard of it, but nothing has traumatized me more than this 4 part series about the end times. Made in the 70’s, these movies are terrifying and creepy looking at the same time. The song used to get stuck in my head and haunt me. I’m not joking. There were guillotines chopping people’s heads off. Watch the trailer for the first film in the series.

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5. Carman

If you don’t know who this guy was,  you weren’t a Christian in the 90s. He was a singer/actor and the king of all things corny in Christian media. He made long form music videos that were kind of like a modern opera. Two of them were terrifying and probably shouldn’t have been watched by children, others funny…all life changing.

Below are the 2 scariest. The second one made it very hard for me to sleep at night (5 minute mark).

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6. The Bike King and the Ten Commandments

I never had the honor of watching this movie, but someone posted the trailer on Facebook and it was the funniest thing I have ever seen. Do yourself a favor and watch this trailer.

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